THE BLOG
10/16/2012 01:55 pm ET Updated Dec 16, 2012

To Honor

Once we know something, experience something, feel something, there is an understandable tendency to put it away, to bury it, to forget its importance in our lives. But integrity and aliveness have something to do with keeping what is true before us. This is the art of honoring what we learn. This reflection explores what it means to honor ourselves, each other, and God.

How do we begin then to inhabit our destiny of being here? I believe it starts with reverence and listening, with honoring every bit of life we encounter. So at the deepest level, when I say I honor you, this means that, when I become conscious or aware of you, I make a commitment to keep that truth visible from that moment forward. To honor you means that what I've learned about you becomes part of our geography. It means that what has become visible and true will not become invisible again.

To honor myself, then, means that as I grow, I will not ignore or hide the parts of my soul and humanness that become more present in me and the world. To honor myself means that I make a commitment to keep the truth of who I am visible, that I will not let the truth of my being become invisible again. Or if it does, I will stay devoted to retrieving it.

To honor God means that we vow to keep all that we become aware of in view, that we will not pretend to be ignorant of things we know to be true or holy. And if we forget or get distracted or derailed, we will stay devoted to retrieving the ever-present sense of the sacred.

So at the deepest level, the most essential level, listening entails a constant effort to feel that moment where everything touches everything else, a constant effort to live below the sheer fact of things. This fundamental listening invokes a commitment to keep what is true before us, so we might be touched by the life-force in all things. Such listening opens us to the never-ending art of tuning our inner person to the mysteries that surround us. We do this through the work of honoring what we experience, through the work of keeping what is true visible. All this is the work of reverence.

Excerpt from Seven Thousand Ways to Listen, just published from Simon & Schuster Oct. 9, 2012.

A Question to Walk With: How do you honor yourself, that is, keep the truth of who you are visible?

For more Poetry for the Soul, click here.

For more by Mark Nepo, click here.